We’ve been operating as a Midlands PR agency since 2006, so we’re pretty new to the region. However, in that short time, we have tried to landscape the PR agency/PR consultancy sector here.
Here are our basic intial thoughts and of course we recognise that all agencies are different, so we may not all fit neatly into one of these categories. Comments welcomed.
The big boys
There are a handful of large PR agencies which handle regional and national accounts. They seem to have a strong pedigree in property, retail and manufacturing related clients and tend to either be part of a national franchise (Freshwater/McCann Erikson) or are owned by one/two (Bright, Wyatt, Willoughby) people. These agencies produce outstanding work which easily rivals London and Manchester based PR agency work.
The full service agencies
Unlike London, there are more full service agencies here in our opinion. The PR offering is part of a larger mix with a PR team working closely with design and e-marketing teams. These agencies will offer the full spectrum of marketing communications services and work over a number of sectors.
The mid-sized agency
These agencies are mid-sized for the Midlands and typically employ around 10-15 people. We often find that the staff is heavily made up of journalists, mainly from the ex-regional newspapers. They have great journalistic contacts and are very good at media relations. These agencies may also employ a designer in-house to broaden their services.
The small agencies
There are many 2 – 9 people agencies producing great work. Similar to the mid-sized agency, these agencies will probably offer design and other marketing communications services, though they may not employ a designer in house. Often these agencies tend to have hands on senior executives who work on the client accounts. We fit into this category. Currently, we are four people, all senior level PRs or journalists. We differ in that we specialise in technology, both business to business and consumer which is pretty unique in the Midlands. To offer the benefits of a full service agency, we team up with partners in design and other marketing activities.
As journalists are being made redundant in the Midlands as elsewhere, we are guessing that some of them may step over to our side of the fence. It’s too early to tell if this is going to happen in any significant numbers though. Also, there are already quite a few one man/woman PR operations throughout the Midlands. Many have 1-2 long standing clients and most work from home.